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A familiar native shrub, American elderberry is commonly seen along streambanks and roadsides and in moist woodlands and thickets throughout eastern North America. It has pinnate leaves with toothed leaflets and small white flowers borne in large flattened clusters in summer. Purple-black, round fruit comes next, attracting wildlife to the garden. Elderberries typically grow to about 12 feet high, but they tolerate pruning to a smaller size. Fruit is edible when cooked.
Black elder forms an upright and bushy, but somewhat coarse, shrub with toothed green leaves. It bears scented, flattened clusters of white flowers in early summer, which mature into glossy black fruit. It has given rise to many cultivars with notable foliage. Sambucus is a good choice for a quick growing shrub and is suitable for mixed or shrub borders or for naturalizing in wild areas. Birds love the fruits of this genus, which have culinary attributes when cooked, but can cause illness if eaten raw, or if the poisonous seeds are consumed. Contact with leaves may irritate skin.
Valued for its flowers, foliage, and fruit, Black Beauty™ elderberry is a deciduous shrub that requires regular watering during its first few yearsbut will become more drought tolerant as it becomes established. Areas with moist soil are ideal. Black Beauty™ will grow 8 feet tall if left unpruned, but fairly severe pruning in the first year will keep the plant from looking leggy. Pruning will sacrifice the large pink flowers, but the plant will be much sturdier and have a better habit if you do. The flowers, which bloom in June, are large and have a lemony scent. The foliage is dark and finely cut. Elderberries are edible and can be used to make juice or jelly, if the birds don't get there first. -Teresa Smith, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
This choice specimen livens up the garden all season long with its stunning leaves of green splashed with gold. It bears flattened, creamy white flowers that mature into glossy black fruit. It grows more slowly than most elderberries. It makes an attractive specimen.
This vigorous cultivar has attractive dark green leaves with yellow margins that fade to white. In summer, it bears flattened clusters of creamy white flowers which mature in fall to glossy black fruit. Plants grow 10-20 feet tall and wide.
This choice specimen has a graceful habit with finely divided golden foliage that emerges as bronze. It is less susceptible to sun scorch than the other gold varieties. It bears creamy white flowers that mature into red fruits.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
A coarse but bold perennial giant for the back of the border with yellow, daisy-like flowers in summer. Cups form where the toothed leaves meet the thick stems; birds are said to drink from the water held in the cups. Tough prairie natives that will self-sow, these plants need lots of sun and lots of room—a single plant can reach 7 or 8 feet tall and 6 feet across.
This shade-loving perennial produces plumes of creamy white blossoms in spring, followed by mottled yellowish-green berries that turn to deep red. The fragrant, ivory white blossoms occur on the ends of arching branches, distinguishing them from true Solomon's seal (Polygonatum). The plant grows to 3 feet high and 2 feet wide.
This hybrid produces vivid deep purple-pink fruit from late summer on. It forms a thicket (which may be sheared) 3 to 5 feet high and wide.
This fragrant cultivar bears single rose-pink flowers in midseason, which often rebloom in late summer or autumn. It forms a shrub 6 feet high by 10 feet wide.
This species bears dome-shaped flower heads several inches across that are crowded with tiny, tubular amethyst or white flowers that look somewhat like the blooms of an allium. It has lance-shaped, toothed leaves in hues of cordovan purple or deep green brushed with plum highlights. It blooms over a long season. Though it is a perennial, blue throatwort performs wonderfully as an annual and blooms summer to fall. Plants grow to about 3 feet tall and wide.
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